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Most people think they have Flanders – the Dutch-speaking northern half of Belgium – figured out: beer, chocolate and the EU are the standard tag lines. However, dig beneath the surface and you will discover a region of quirk and style. Author Emma Thomson introduces travellers not only to the World Heritage Sites of Brussels' Grand Place or Bruges' romantic canals but also to snug spots, like the bewitched village of Laarne and Geraardsbergen, the real home of Manneken-Pis.
Flanders provides something for everyone: the city-break or business tourist seeking restaurants and shopping; the wildlife and outdoor enthusiast after bird-watching and rural walks; the traveller wishing to seek out towns, villages and countryside off the beaten track; and the visitor in search of luxury and pampering. Dress up and join the merry madness of Aalst Carnival, spend the night in a traditional begijnhof, or simply people-watch over a bowl of mosselen-friet in Bruges' medieval town square.
Entertaining and instructing in equal measure, Bradt's Flanders is the first guidebook to cover the entire region in depth. Join Emma Thomson on a journey along romantic canals, through bewitched villages and to bohemian cafes in this beguiling corner of Europe. Proost!
PART ONE GENERAL INFORMATION 1
Chapter 1 Background Information 3
Geography 3, Climate 3, Natural history 4, History 4, Government and politics 14, Economy 15, People 15, Language 16, Religion 17, Culture 18
Chapter 2 Practical Information 27
When to visit 27, Highlights 27, Suggested itineraries 28, Tourist information 29, Tour operators 29, Red tape 30, Embassies and consulates 31, Getting there and away 31, Health 34, Safety 34, Focus on specific groups 35, What to take 38, Money 38, Budgeting 38, Getting around 39, Accommodation 42, Eating and drinking 44, Public holidays 52, Festivals 52, Shopping 57, Sport 59, Media and communications 61, Business 63, Buying property 63, Cultural etiquette 63, Travelling positively 64
PART TWO THE GUIDE 65
Chapter 3 Brussels 67
History 67, Getting there and away 68, Orientation 69, Getting around 70, Tourist information 73, Where to stay 73, Where to eat 84, Entertainment and nightlife 87, Shopping 91, Other practicalities 93, What to see and do 93, Brussels' communes 121, Around Brussels 135
Chapter 4 Flemish Brabant 139
Leuven 139, Grimbergen 148, Halle 150, Aarschot 152, Diest 154, Tienen 159
Chapter 5 East Flanders 161
Gent (Ghent) 161, Laarne 187, Sint-Niklaas 188, Dendermonde 192, Aalst 194, Geraarsdsbergen 199, Ronse 201, Oudenaarde 203, Deinze 207
Chapter 6 West Flanders 209
Brugge (Bruges) 209, Around Brugge 231, The Flemish coast 234, Veurne 249, Around Veurne 253, Diksmuide 254, Ieper (Ypres) 258, The Ypres Salient 263, Poperinge 269, Kortrijk 274, Roeselare
Chapter 7 Antwerp 279
Antwerp 279, Mechelen 303, Lier 312, Herentals 316, Geel 317, Turnhout 319
Chapter 8 Limburg 323
Hasselt 323, Sint-Truiden 329, Tongeren 331, Maaseik 335
Appendix 1 Language 339
Appendix 2 Glossary 352
Appendix 3 Famous Flemings … there's more than you thought 354
Appendix 4 Further Information 357
Emma Thomson was formerly Commissioning Editor at Bradt Travel Guides and now works as a freelance writer and photographer. A member of the British Guild of Travel Writers, she writes for international magazines, newspapers and publishers. She first visited Flanders nine years ago after falling for a Fleming and has been totting up her Eurostar frequent-traveller points ever since - she was even lucky enough to live in a farmhouse (complete with sheep, chickens and rabbits) near Aalst for a year. www.ethomson.co.uk
"Whatever you're looking for in a travel destination (except perhaps skiing or a safari), if you can't find it in Flanders you're probably better off without it. Emma Thomson's excellent new book celebrates this splendid corner of the Continent."
- Simon Calder , Senior Travel Editor, The Independent